MANILA– Manila’s resolve in achieving a joint exploration deal with China without compromising Philippine sovereignty is “unshakeable”, a ranking Energy official said Thursday as the two nations continue to move forward from a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2018.

“The first words that the Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary [Alfonso Cusi] uttered was that the President ordered him to make sure that the sovereignty of the Philippines is respected. We work under that framework. We work under that directive,” DOE Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido III said during the Reporting on Maritime Issues seminar hosted by the United States embassy in Manila.

Pulido assured that the DOE’s input into the discussion of energy security in the West Philippine Sea always has the country’s sovereignty in mind.

As each side will try to get as much as possible from the oil and gas agreement, he assured that the Philippines will approach the talks from both legal and practical perspective.

“The interest is this: We need energy exploration and that area is within the Philippine sovereignty so we are approaching this from both practical and legal perspective,” he said.

“Legal is we cannot agree on anything that would surrender Philippine sovereignty; the Secretary has repeated this several times. For us at the DOE, that is unshakeable, that is something we cannot sacrifice, that is something we cannot compromise,” he added.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said China and the Philippines have already set up an inter-governmental steering committee.

Among the committee’s priorities is to discuss the lifting of the 2013 ban on exploration and drilling activities in the West Philippine Sea. (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/PNA)

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